AUSTRALIAN PELICAN (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

You could never miss identifying an Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus).

They’re enormous.

Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

….and they’re found all over the country except inland to the west.

They have a short tail, very bulky-bodied appearance with a long neck and stout short legs.   The head, neck and body are all-white.

The adult has a short rough crest.  The wings are long and broad, white, with flight feathers producing a broad black trailing edge above and below.

The immature is dark brown and off-white.  While the image below is a wee bit over-exposed, it’s the only photo I have of a young Pelican so it belongs in this post.

It soars frequently and is one of the very few birds I’ve ever captured in flight.  They were probably standing still in the air held aloft by wind gusts LOL 😀

I suppose I am exaggerating as I have photographed the odd bird mid-flight, but its more through luck, than skill with the camera.  Methinks not enough practice (when it’s so much easier to photograph birds that stand still for me).

The best photos I’ve got in my bird library were made at Melbourne Zoo, where, if you know the right winding path through some thickets below the tree-top Orangutan enclosure, you can get very close indeed.


It’s such a thrill to get up close to these magnificent birds.

Australian Pelican

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I’ve photographed quite a few down at Brighton beach (a southern bayside beach from Melbourne City – accessible via public transport from the city), but now I live in the west, a little too far away from my present home location to re-visit at the present time.

The other images I’ve made were at Jawbone Conservation Reserve and Marine Sanctuary in the western bay suburb of Williamstown.  I’ve been there via bus (and taxi 🙂 ) a few times now, but still haven’t got around to taking the heavy telephoto lens down there to capture the birds perched on the islands or marshland stretches.  The first 3 images below were captured through a wooden hide, so if I’d had the long lens, I would have been able to capture them up close (as I did at Melbourne Zoo).

20 thoughts on “AUSTRALIAN PELICAN (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

  1. Pelicans fascinate everyone 😀. Odd and really graceful in flight. We have a brown pelican in my area year round. They fish different from all the others. They will climb up, hover, and crash down head first…from very high. Don’t know how they do it, but great photo ops 😂

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    1. I think the fascination results from their antics and clumsy-looking movements. I suspect I love them partly as they are so big, I can actually see and photograph them more easily (than the tiny birds hiding in foliage).

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  2. We have two species, and it’s interesting to see the similarities and differences with yours. I have one that’s been fishing off the stern of the boat I’m working on presently. I keep thinking I ought to take my camera down there, but I just can’t bring myself to put it in a working environment. No matter how well protected it is, I’d never stop thinking about all the sanding dust, etc. that could bring problems.

    They are awkward and graceful at the same time. Funny birds, really — but I’m quite fond of them, as you obviously are of yours.

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    1. They seem to be relatively happy amongst human company, Linda.

      (I wouldn’t take my camera down to your boat either. I actually bought another camera body years ago, so I didn’t have to change lenses on the sand or near salt spray. Couldn’t imagine a camera near your workplace, I must say).

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  3. They are gorgeous, Vicki. The first time I saw an American White Pelican on a lake in Colorado, I thought it was lost. Turns out, they breed in inland lakes in the summer, and it is always a treat to see them. They don’t have any black feathers, unlike their Australian relatives. Black and white-how classically elegant!

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  4. Those are some great pictures! I’m very fond of pelicans anyway. Believe it or not, there are some pelicans that spend their summers on some small lakes here, 500 miles from the coast.

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    1. Thanks Terry.

      I could well believe pelicans being on your inland lakes. I notice they can be found thousands of miles inland on my Bird Guide book map – amazing 🙂


    1. Thanks Lynn. What’s not to like about these rather clumsy-looking enormous birds 🙂 Between you and me, perhaps half the reason I like them is that they’re so big, I can actually see them easily and they make great photo subjects (compared to tiny birds that hide in the tree foliage).


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